Russia resumes strategic sub patrols

Although the trend in Russian strategic submarine patrols has been downward for a number of years, the Russian Navy has resumed patrols in 2003.The U.S. Navy traditionally keeps track of Russian strategic submarine activity by following the vessels, primarily with attack submarines. At the height of the Cold War, several Soviet missile subs cruised off Bermuda, prepared to launch nuclear-tipped missiles that could hit the United States in minutes. Such patrols by Russian Delta and Typhoon subs with longer-range missiles dropped from 37 in 1991, most of them in the Atlantic and Pacific, to 19 in 1993. By 2001, there was just one patrol in the Bering Sea, probably influenced by the August 2000 sinking of Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine Kursk. The U.S. Navy carries out about 50 patrols a year by its fleet of 18 Trident strategic ballistic missile submarines. Each patrol lasts several months and is carried out in the Atlantic or the Pacific. The Office of Naval Intelligence officer said that “patrol trends are one of the many factors used to evaluate Russian strategic naval capabilities.” China has spent almost a decade working on a strategic missile submarine and can barely get their one strategic class submarine out of port as they have trouble with reliability. China is working on a new strategic sub that is not expected to be launched before 2005.